Ready or not,
someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises,
no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected,
whether treasured or forgotten,
will pass to someone else.
fame and temporal power
will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned
or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations,
and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans,
and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses
that once seemed so important
will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from,
or on what side of the tracks you lived,
at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought,
but what you built;
not what you got,
but what you gave?
What will matter is not your success,
but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned,
but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity,
courage or sacrifice that enriched,
empowered or encouraged others
to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence,
but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories,
but the memories that live in those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered,
by whom and for what.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident.
It's not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
Author: Michael Josephson
*Michael Josephson’s “What Will Matter” is used with
permission of the Josephson Institute of Ethics. ©2006 Michael Josephson, one
of the nation's leading ethicists, is the founder of the nonprofit,
nonsectarian Josephson Institute of Ethics and the premier youth character
education program, CHARACTER COUNTS! For more information or to make a
donation, please visit
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